Recommended books for basic spoken Chinese and written Chinese for beginners

Choosing right books to learn Chinese is critical as each book has its own way of teaching the language. The teaching way must match the learner’s capabilities. The below are the books which I used and personally find them very useful in improving my Chinese language skills. I hope you too will get benefitted.


Basic spoken Chinese

Mandarin Phrase book & Dictionary by Lonely Planet

This is a hand book for Spoken Chinese which is very handy, easy yo use and convenient for carrying while travelling. The book gives a very good introduction of Chinese language & PinYin for starters. Tones classification & pinyin system were well explained. The book gives vocabulary related to general daily life situations like eating out, travel, shopping , health, meeting people, emergency and many more.


For each situation, different sentences were given in Chinese script, pinyin and also in English. Best way to use the book is to learn pinyin first with related english meanings. I suggest don’t try to learn Chinese characters first which may demotivate from learning the language. Book has “Culture tip” feature which gives nice tips on Chinese culture for each daily life situation. In the end, the book also has English to Chinese & Chinese to English dictionary which includes most commonly used words for quick reference.

Publisher: Lonely planet

Basic Written Chinese

Tuttle “ Learning Chinese Characters – HSK Level A

The book helps to learn and remembers around 800 Chinese characters. Learning strategy used in the book is unique and easy to follow. The book emphasises to learn the most basic characters first and its character combinations to make different words. Book give interesting stories for each character so that one can visualise the character and remember its meaning. Specially designed pictures and stories been used in structured way to make the learning process enjoyable. Key information is given for each character, including radical count, traditional Chinese form, compounds and stroke order shown graphically on how to write the character.

The best way to use the book is to follow the stroke order and write the character, read the stories carefully to remember the characters. On every new day, remember to quickly write the lesson exercise and revise the characters. Once completing this book, one can able to identify, read and write Chinese.

Publisher of the book – Tuttle Publishing

In addition to that, I also advice the below books for HSK levels which gives a very good practice of Chinese language and helps one to improve Chinese in systematic way.

Book for HSK-1 Test 

The Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì (HSK) (Chinese: 汉语水平考试), translated as the Chinese Proficiency Test[1] or the Chinese Standard Exam, is China’s only standardized test of Standard Chinese language proficiency for non-native speakers such as foreign students and overseas Chinese. For beginners, I suggest go with HSK level 1 which has 150 words vocabulary and the book gives a variety of usage of these 150 words in daily life.

As you increase your proficiency, you can go ahead buying next level books till HSK level 6 from the same publisher. These books also include a DVD with audio learning kit which will also help us improve listening comprehension of Chinese language.

The book is published by Beijing Language and Culture University Press 


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